Me and Money

The first time I experienced and understood what it meant to lack financially, I was in secondary school; JSS1 to be precise and unfortunately for me it wasn’t a case of me seeing someone else lack and being shocked by it (that would have been a better introduction), but even that level of lack was not something I had seen or experienced prior to that time. I knew people who did not have as much as my family did and I also knew those that had much more than we did but nobody around me had ever struggled for basic survival so I was confused and embarrassed when the lack button hit me.

Happy Childhood No Worries just Food

I do not have a typical rags to riches story I also do not have a grace to grass story . I just have a story that’s peculiar to me and is still work in progress. As a child I was shielded a lot from money and its activities, my parents were (still are probably) vehemently against giving kids money i.e cash and that would have been fine in itself  because at that age I did not have much need or appreciation for cash besides I wasn’t allowed out of the house so what did I need cash for? However, I feel financial education is something that can be taught at any age and in that aspect I was clueless.

Teacher: The Credit ledger elucidates………            Me :  …..foood,..????

When I turned 9 I went off to boarding school at this point I had come to appreciate and knew all was not as it used to be financially at home but then again adults  always complained about stuff so it meant nothing to me. As far as I knew, we still ate food regularly, still had clothes and nothing was “amiss” (at least so I thought). I had not felt the direct impact yet and was not old enough to understand what it meant, but I was about to get a huge dose of what the lack of money could cause. I had needed something for school and had asked for it several times and one night shortly before I was to resume my 3rd term in JSS1 I lay in bed pondering why I hadn’t gotten that thing, I knew it wasn’t a luxury item and I remember wondering “why the delay?” and it hit me; there was no money for it my folks simply could not afford it.

Having and Having Not

That day began a very long,confusing  and troublesome relationship with money. I had been told money didn’t matter and bla bla bla but here I was suffering because we didn’t have enough of it.

I also noticed something in secondary school;  having money made a huge difference in a persons life. Not only did it afford you the nicer things  like sandals, underwear, school stationery and “janded” (Nigerian slang for exotic or foreign) provision, it also many times meant you automatically became an “it girl” or like my big sis would say “happening babe”. I know a lot of people who moved in the “it crowd” solely because their parents were considered “waded” (Nigerian slang for rich) and people wanted to associate with them. Now it didn’t mean the same for everyone but even for those not in the “it crowds”  there was a certain level of respect just because…..I also observed that certain surnames didn’t get punished as much by teachers or senior students because those names where “heavy weight”. All this left me wondering if truly having money meant nothing or it was just something adults said that they themselves did not believe.

Can’t help what I have

I was never jealous of these students as such because I never considered myself poor however, I was super fascinated by the entitlements being rich or at least seeming to be rich afforded a lot of people (as if being rich wasn’t enough privilege).

In the years to come I came to understand the value and power of money and as I have gotten older and entered the work force, I have grown to respect money for what it can do. In meeting or encountering people who come from intense poverty and have built themselves up to become successful and great, I have learned that poverty is largely a choice, a mindset and can be overcome by taking smart decisions and working hard. Yes, I know there are exceptions but then again a lot of poor people make poor choices but that’s not my focus any way.

I think everyone loves a good rags to riches story (hence Cinderella being the most popular fairytale) because these stories ignite hope in us and make us feel like we all have a chance despite what life throws in our direction.  The common motivating factor in a lot these kinds of stories is their “horrifiying” past, their struggle, their point of illumination and the most beautiful part is usually how they overcame their difficult circumstances despite all odds, to become who they now are. The success of these people pushes them to their limits, many times they exceed their own expectations and that of others to become, they break barriers and surpass limits.

Oprah got the Rags to Riches story on Lockdown

These days as an adult I wonder if the absence of a “significant struggle” very early in my life may have dis-equipped (do not know if this word exists) me from having enough ambition/motivation to push through. I know if I push myself I can do by faaaar better than I am doing now but I wonder if my past was too cushioned and therefore I am relatively oblivious to the hard reality that could have been my springboard to motivation and success or am I just making excuses for laziness. Don’t get me wrong I have gone though my own share of poverty and lack, I have scrubbed houses and done all sorts of odd jobs to make ends meet, I definitely know what it feels like for friends (or frenemies) to look down on you because you do not have as much money as they do.

The questions I ask myself now are, how different would I have been if I came from a very very humble background?  Am I all I can be? Have I pushed myself as much as I can? Am I motivated enough?

Time for Self Reconstruction

Shamefully the answer to all these questions is NO. I am all growed up now (as black Americans would say) and so its time to change, stop blaming or accusing my parents for my attitude to life. Because going by this write up you would be right to infer that I am sorta saying because my parents made life easy I didn’t learn how to put in the work but then how does that make me different from someone who grew up in abject poverty, is still poor and is blaming his past for his present. Nothing!.

To become the best version of myself my first responsibility is to assume responsibility for my current state of affairs financially and otherwise. Know where I am, decide where I want to go then stretch, grow and eventually develop an amiable relationship with money. It’s time.





2 thoughts on “Me and Money

  1. Glad to see you are back! I missed reading your blog. Nice piece, I like your Cinderella analogy, haha… Although I think it is time we had a “rags to riches” fairy tale about a woman that made it to the top outside the sugar daddy fast lane. (I joke, but not really).

    Seriously though, I had a similar conversation with a member of my family. On how the comfort of childhood or the lack of the hustle takes away, or is some kind of handicap for adults from the average middle class family. While I agree in part (especially as its a private experience), we have the financial background we have. Dare I say we needed the financial background we were given. And maybe, just maybe, it’s enough? There is always room for growth, but be weary of motivation built on faulted lines.

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